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Spain's Air Europa faces losing 40% of its routes in IAG takeover bid

AFP
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Spain's Air Europa faces losing 40% of its routes in IAG takeover bid
An Air Europa airplane. (Photo by Manuela Picq / AFP)

Airline giant IAG, whose plans to acquire Air Europa are being scrutinised by EU anti-trust regulators, said Monday it would cede 40 percent of the carrier's routes to the competition if Brussels approves its takeover.

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"We have presented a very ambitious set of measures" to the European Commission, Luis Gallego, CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG) told Spain's Cinco Dias business daily.

"We are prepared to cede the equivalent of 40 percent of flights operated by Air Europa to other airlines," Gallego said, stressing it was "more than double" what it had initially proposed.

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Spain's Air Europa flies to 50 different countries, including many European and Latin American destinations.

IAG, which owns British Airways and Spain's Iberia, had in February 2023 said it was to acquire Air Europa for €500 million from Globalia, its Spanish owner, pending regulatory approval.

In IAG's talks with the European Commission, "we have analysed every route to see whether there would be any competition concerns," Gallego said.

"We guarantee that after closing this deal, there will not be a single route that will be exclusively run by Iberia and Air Europa. There will always be an alternative," he said.

IAG's designs on Air Europa were first laid out in 2019.

If approved, the takeover will allow IAG, which also owns Spain's low-cost carrier Vueling and Ireland's Aer Lingus, to strengthen its Latin American routes and make Madrid airport a major European hub.

But the deal is subject to a green light from Brussels, which at the end of January opened an "in-depth investigation" into the proposed merger on concerns it would reduce competition on several routes.

It is particularly concerned about competition on Spanish domestic routes between Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands as well as links between Madrid and several European cities.

It is also looking into long-haul routes from Madrid to Latin America, and to the United States.

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